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Business Intelligence and Business Analytics - what is the difference?

Gábor Tolnai

You will already know that in business, data is power.

Technology enables contemporary organisations to gather and store vast amounts of information, to use in an infinite number of ways. The underlying aim is always to support informed decision making.

Using this data in a logical and productive way requires Business Intelligence (BI) and Business Analytics (BA). These two terms are sometimes mistakenly believed to be interchangeable.

The difference between them is, in fact, crucial.

The most fundamental way to define business intelligence vs business analytics is that the first one underpins the second.

All organisations should use data to acquire 'intelligence', in-depth facts and figures from both a forensic and real-time point of view. Types of business intelligence can vary and span across your competitors, customers, suppliers and general marketplace, for example.

After it is collected, this is the starting point of business analytics - the science of using that data for business planning and growth.

This article looks at the differences in more detail. It also illustrates why knowledge alone is insufficient and how you could use the knowledge that builds a competitive edge and confident decision-making.

The advantages of Business Intelligence

Greater business control

Ability to assess large amounts of end-to-end data that drills down on your business’ functions in real-time is vital to any organisation. It brings transparency and control over your entire business operations, identifying and tackling issues quickly and robustly.

Creating agile and lean business systems

When you add this real-time information to forensic data, your business intelligence becomes even more potent. Data such as past operational patterns and resource management, including whether you are truly optimising your workforce and machinery, can all be reviewed. 

This level of business intelligence provides important insights into ways to do things better, faster, more cost-efficient and with less waste - making it a core principle of lean manufacturing and business systems.

Improved marketing

You can also use real-time and forensic business intelligence to understand your customers better - this includes information that charts buying behaviours and possibly even their decision-making processes.

From this, businesses can create more assured marketing activities or consider new product developments and use the information for a retention strategy.

The benefits of Business Analytics

Predicting the future

The data gathered using business intelligence tools can enable you to conduct data analysis activities. With the right software and methods, business data can help predict future business patterns and outcomes based on key facts and figures.

Business planning and improvement

Predictive analysis techniques then help you to formulate your business development strategy with confidence, including straightforward changes that you can make to become more profitable or productive.

However, the best business analytics techniques also provide informative insights on how to avoid problems and trends that you would otherwise be unaware of. For example, are you too dependent on one client for your revenue, or are there potential cash flow issues in the near future? Have you got imminent skill gaps or outdated processes or machinery that may hinder a business upturn?

Finding out what you don’t know

“Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.” Confucius.

One of the things that data analytics can uncover is gaps in the commercial information you are using on a daily basis. It can show you ways to improve your business intelligence, to answer even more complex and critical business development questions.

Best BI and BA methodology

There is no 'one size fits all' solution to gathering data, the mathematical processes used for business intelligence and the creativity employed in business analytics. The key is to find innovative and agile software configured to your current and future business goals.

Zoosh Product Studio uses cloud technologies to help businesses unlock the potential in their inherent data, to help shape a more assured trajectory for enterprises. Contact us if you would like to discuss how we can help with your business intelligence and business analytics strategies.